************ Funeral Sermon on Isaiah 65:19 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on February 9, 2019
"Joy Instead of Weeping"
Martin Verhoeven Funeral
There is a phrase that better describes Martin Verhoeven than any other phrase. I heard versions of the phrase when I visited with the family. We read a version of the phrase in Martin's biography. What phrase am I talking about? The phrase, "He went to church."
"He went to church." He was carried there by his parents. As a covenant child, he was baptized in the name of the triune God. I am sure the minister mentioned his baptism in the prayer and sermon. It was a special day for family and friends and even God looked on with approval.
"He went to church." He wasn't sent to church. His parents took him, for they worshiped together as a family. He quickly learned to sit quietly in the worship service. He attended Sunday School. All of his best friends attended church with him.
"He went to church." At the glorious age of 19 he professed his faith in Christ -- first before the elders and then in front of the entire congregation. I am sure the minister mentioned his profession in the prayer and sermon. It was a special day for family and friends and even God looked on with approval as he was welcomed into full communion with the people of God.
"He went to church." One and a half years after his profession, Martin went to church to be married to Leona Roelofson. It was a marriage in the Lord. The minister had appropriate remarks for them in his sermon. It was a special day for family and friends and even God looked on with approval.
"He went to church." Together, Martin and Leona presented Carolyn for baptism. They did this four more times in the years that followed for the rest of their children. Each time the minister talked of God's faithfulness throughout the generations. These were special days for family and friends and even God looked on with approval.
"He went to church." Martin and Leona took their children to church -- they worshiped as a family, you know. They also brought them to Sunday School and Catechism and Youth Group. The children knew: the Verhoeven family went to church. For instance, the children were visiting Martin on Sunday, a week before he died. He was weak. His color was not so good anymore. We all knew death was approaching. "Time for church," he said and sent them out the door.
"He went to church." And served as an elder. More times than the family can remember. An endless cycle: three years on, two years off, three years on, two years off.
Today, "he went to church" again. He was carried here, just like he was carried to church the first time. The minister has remarks from Scripture that are appropriate to the occasion. Family and friends are in attendance and God is looking on with approval.
"He went to church." Who went to church? We are talking about Martin Verhoeven the sinner. He wanted that to be said loud and clear. Whether it was for baptism, profession, marriage, elders' meetings, worship, he went to church because he was Martin Verhoeven the sinner. He went to church to hear the message of salvation. He went to church to worship his Savior.
I have to say it one more time: "He went to church." The church triumphant! The church above! The church redeemed by the blood of the Lamb! The angels of God carried him there. Our text speaks of this church.
We are told two things about Martin's experience in this church, the church above. We are told there is joy. And, we are told there is no weeping.
"He went to church." The church triumphant. And there, says Isaiah, there is no weeping: "the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more."
That is not the case here, is it? This life, this earth, this body are a vale of tears. We cry when a loved one dies. We cry when we are injured and in pain. We cry when we are sad. We cry when we suffer loss. We cry when we are caught in a sin. We cry when we feel overwhelmed by guilt. We cry when a relationship is broken. We cry over hunger, poverty, persecution, slander, abortion. We cry over unbelief and unrepentant hearts. We cry. A favorite poem of the family speaks to this:
GOD HATH NOT PROMISEDThis poem is true for this life, this body, this earth. But this poem is not true for the church triumphant.
God hath not promised
Skies always blue,
All our lives through.
God hath not promised
Sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow,
Peace without pain.
But God hath promised
Strength for the days,
Rest for the weary,
Light for the way.
Grace for the trials,
Help from above.
Martin & Leona told me over and over again that their life was so blessed. You watched this couple and what sticks out? They were always holding hands. Just before Martin died, they exchanged a final kiss. They were blessed with a happy marriage. You enter their home and the first thing you see is five plaques: Carolyn, Wesley, Ronald, Darlene, Lori. Oh, they loved their children. You turn the corner and there is a whole wall of grandchildren and great-grandchildren -- 51 of them. What a joy and what a blessing to have them. They enjoyed family vacations -- the Colorado River, cruises. But that doesn't mean there were no hard times. That doesn't mean there was no weeping and crying. Because there was. After all, this life and this earth and this body too often are a vale of tears.
But, there is no weeping in the church triumphant. The glorified saints weep no more because there is no reason for grief -- namely, there is no sin nor the effects of sin in glory. There is no poverty, famine, persecution, slander, or brokenness in heaven.
(Rev 21:4) He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.They weep no more for they are perfectly sanctified and have ceased to sin. They weep no more because no doubt or thoughts of unbelief plague their hearts.
One of the biggest fears in this life is the fear of the unknown. We don't know what the future may hold. So some on this earth worry endlessly about what might happen. The glorified saints weep no more because they know they are eternally secure. They dwell in a city which shall never be stormed; they bask in a sun which shall never set; they drink of a river which shall never dry; they pluck fruit from a tree which shall never wither.
The worst thing in life is to be away from the Lord. Or, to feel that the Lord is absent. We heard that from the lips of Jesus on the cross after the three awful hours of darkness: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mt 27:46). The church triumphant weeps no more because they are ever with the Lord. Hours and days and years and ages may pass, but eternity shall not be exhausted.
The glorified saints weep no more because their every desire is fulfilled. They cannot wish for anything which is not already in their possession. As Paul puts it,
(1 Cor 2:9) However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"--
(cf Is 64:4)
Instead of weeping and crying there is joy. This is the second thing we are told about Martin's experience in the church triumphant: "I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people."
The church triumphant has the joy of salvation. We have it in this life too, but the saints in glory have the full joy of a full salvation. About that there can be no doubt. In one of the glorious worship scenes pictured in Revelation, we are told that John heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them. They are singing:
(Rev 5:13) "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"They are rejoicing in God their Savior. "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain ..." (Rev 5:12).
How great is the joy of the church triumphant? Isaiah says the "former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind" (Is 65:17). Isaiah is not talking about dementia or Alzheimer's. The church triumphant is so overjoyed, their joy is so great, that they no longer will remember miseries or trials or pains or whatever else causes tears and cries.
But now Isaiah puts a different twist on this joy. Not only does the church triumphant rejoice in God, but God also rejoices in them: "I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people." This is so awesome and wonderful -- that God rejoices in the church and in the church triumphant! So great is His love toward His people that He delights in our happiness. Isn't that great?! The God of heaven delights in His children. That's why I kept saying God looked on with approval. And, right now the God of heaven is again delighting in Martin Verhoeven.
"He went to church." For Martin, it started already as a baby. It is true for all eternity. But now let me ask: is it true for you? Will you be part of the church triumphant? I have to ask this because not everyone is. I have to ask this because there are many who go from the trials and pains and cries and tears of this life to the eternal agonies of hell's fires.
"He went to church." To be like Martin is easy, so easy. To be part of the church triumphant is so easy. You know what you need to do? By grace, you need to repent of your sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. And when you do, if you do, then someday this life with its pain and suffering will be forgotten. You will have the joy of salvation. You will have the joy of being loved by the Lord.
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